Daredevils - the shops without fear

“Highly trustworthy individuals think others are like them, causing them to assume too much social risk, to be cheated more often and ultimately perform less well than those who happen to have a trustworthiness level close to the mean of the population. On the other hand, the low-trustworthiness types form beliefs that are too conservative and thereby avoid being cheated, but give up profitable opportunities too often and, consequently, underperform.”—Butler, Giuliano & Guiso (2009) [via Niall Ferguson]

Before we get to reporting the detail of the Enterprise Brockley night, here's one more vignette from the evening, which deserves its own thread.

Our first question to Simon Cartlidge of Geddes Salon was 'why Ladywell?'

He told us discovered Ladywell by accident when a train took him to Lewisham and he just started walking. When he got there, he marvelled at the number of commuters and beautiful houses and wondered where all the shops and businesses were, to cater for these people.

Some time later, the opportunity to acquire the salon in Ladywell turned up. When he went to view the property on a Sunday, Ladywell was shut. The shutters were down on every business that had them. The high street was empty. The people who'd flooded out of Ladywell Station were nowhere to be seen.

He decided that the lack of people was the symptom of the lack of local businesses, not the cause and he and Olivia ploughed ahead with the purchase. All the while, other local businesses and even some local people told him he was crazy to try and open an aspirational business in Ladywell. They told him how bad the crime was, that people wouldn't spend their money locally. Having already opened a salon elsewhere in London, he was undaunted by the spectre of crime and he couldn't believe that the people he'd seen walking about the streets of Ladywell - reasonably affluent and community spirited - wouldn't spend locally if given the chance.

Happily he was proved right and today Geddes is a thriving business, embraced by local customers. The moral he drew was that high street businesses in the area should be bold and aim high. Offer good quality, whatever type of customer you're aiming for (and he was quick to stress that every section of the community can and should be catered for on our local high streets).

It was stirring stuff and chimes with our observations from three years of running this blog. Every time someone has proposed something new, there have been those quick to forecast its failure. It couldn't happen here. It's been tried before and failed. Nothing changes. But from Geddes to the Orchard, from Tea Leaf Arts to The Talbot, Browns of Brockley to Degustation, the lesson has been that if you do it right, the customers will come.

On the other hand, while he was talking, we remembered an email we'd had a while ago from BC contributor Zoe, who sounded a cautionary note:

"What people say they want from their local shops and where they actually spend their money are two different things. Local businesses cannot just be appealing set dressing for our property values - they have to have local support to thrive. A woman in HOP Scotch the other day said Honor Oak really needed a bakery, a butchers and a deli. HOP Scotch was previously a deli but went out of business. Bertram Bakery is a stone's throw away and the family butchers on Ewhurst Road is a short walk away. There are lots of businesses already on our doorstep."

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